I’ve had this recipe on the back burner to do for ages. The one you get excited about when you first see it, put it away in storage and keep dreaming about making, but never get around to. That one.
What a relief that I have finally created my version of this delectable dish.
A friend from Twitter raved about a beef florentine recipe that her mom made. I was taken with ever aspect of the sound of it. Saucey beef covered in a layer of cheesey spinach and finished off with a crunchy phyllo pastry top, what is not to love.
Thanks @Bubbalubs, its a winner.
Now the beauty about this recipe is you can really adapt it to your taste anyway you like. I added a few bits and pieces to the original one and changed the proportions. I like a lot of spinach. This is a firmish dish which I think works really well as a pie, and you can get stuck in and take out a good solid slice out of it. You could add more sauce if you like it like that, or simply top your favourite bolognese with spinach and phyllo and bake.
You could also turn it vegetarian by roasting cubes of butternut in olive oil. Perhaps adding a few sprigs of thyme and a sprinkle of dried chilli and then top it as per the recipe. I think lamb would work wonderfully too.
* A few notes on the recipe. Use any cheese you like with your cream cheese. I used a mature Cheddar and Parmesan combo, but choose whatever you prefer. I think a stronger cheese works well and adds depth of flavour to this dish. I used a liquid stock concentrate and added a bit extra as I wanted the meatiness (hence my description of ‘concentrated’ beef stock). If you use a cube, crumble in a bit extra. If you want your spinach layer to be more saucey, add 1/4 cup of cream or milk.
Recipe | serves 4 | 45 mins
For the beef layer:
- 1 T oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 500g minced beef
- 2 cloves of garlic crushed
- 1 can of tomatoes (400g)
- 1/2 cup fairly concentrated beef stock
- 1 t sugar
- pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
For the spinach layer:
- 300g – 400g spinach (removed fom stalks)
- 100g mature Cheddar (Gruyere)
- 30g Parmesan (grated)
- 100g cream cheese (I used low fat)
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- butter to coat the phyllo layers (aprox 80g)
For the phyllo layer:
- 6 – 8 sheets of phyllo depending on the sizer of your dish
To make the meat layer heat the oil in a wide non stick frying pan and fry the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook (breaking up any clumps) until the liquid has cooked off and the meat starts to caramlise (go brown). Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the tin of peeled tomatoes, sugar, chilli and stock and allow this to cook over a medium heat until most of liquid has cooked off and the sauce has thickened.
To make the spinach layer: While you meat is cooking away, heat a pot filled with water and bring it to the boil. Add the spinach and allow this to cook until it has wiled (about 5 minutes). Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside. When its cool enough to handle, squeeze the spinach with your hands, making sure you get most of the water out.
In a separate bowl, add all the cheeses to the beaten egg. Roughly chop the drained and wrung out spinach and stir this through the cheese / egg mixture.
In an appropriately sized baking dish spread the meat over the bottom layer and then cover with the spinach mixture.
To make the phyllo topping. Melt the butter in the microwave. Cut 3 pieces of phyllo to roughly the size of the dish. Bush each sheet lightly with butter (covering the surface area) and place over the pie filling buttered side up. Repeat until you have 3 flat layers on the pie. Now using about 6 – 8 pieces (the same size as before), brush with butter and then fold these (buttered side down now) – scrunching it up as you go to create a ruffled effect. Carry on on until you have covered the surface area of your pie with phyllo. Lightly brush over bits of the top phyllo, its not important to brush it all.
Bake in a pre heated over of 200C for 20 – 25 minutes until the phyllo has turned golden.
PS. you will see in the last picture that I have folded the phyllo a different way like a concertina, you can choose whatever you prefer.
*This post has been sponsored by Mediterranean Delicacies, the manufacturers of the phyllo pastry.
A few of my other phyllo recipes can be found here:
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